I think we've all, at one point or another, walked into a thrift store or Goodwill and had that rush of excitement at the possible treasures we could find. As an action figure collector, there is usually something available. My best find was about 20 vintage Star Wars figures all complete for my loose collection a couple years ago (my buddy still hates me for that one). But I also love sports history, particularly baseball and football. And this person's find in the Pittsburgh area was way cooler (and more valuable) than my Ewoks and Rebel Troopers.
While digging through bins of items, Grant Hartley found a very old-looking baseball bat. As it turned out, it was used and belonged to Pirates Hall of Fame third baseman Harold "Pie" Traynor. After doing some research on his phone, he bought the bat for $2.22 and got in touch with one Troy R. Kinunen, who runs Mears Auctions:
"Pie Traynor used that at Forbes Field," Kinunen said Friday. "At the end of the season or the end of the game or whatever, he gave it to somebody. He gifted it. He said 'Here.' It was common for players. The kid took it home and probably put it in the corner of his basement or garage, and it probably sat there through the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s.
"So for 90 years, it sat laying around somewhere and then somebody bought the house, or they cleaned it out and said, 'Hey, let's take this junk to the thrift store.' It went from Pie Traynor to the thrift store, basically, with one stop at the original owner's house. Pretty cool."
Kinunen has actually auctioned off a Traynor bat before, and when research found that the bat stamp used by manufacturer Spaulding matched up with one used for eight years in the '20s and '30s, it was all systems go. Bats had much thinner knobs back in the day, as well, so that was a dead giveaway that this was an antique of some age. The last clue it was authentic? Only players bats got hand-turned stamps into the wood, and this one had it.
As a fan of baseball history, my hope is that the bat is sold to someone who will take care to persevere it the way it deserves. In all, a pretty neat find that will likely sell for over $1000 at auction. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to stop at some places on the way home and most definitely not find anything nearly as interesting.